Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

School Settles Lawsuit for Teen's Drunk Goggles Injury for $100K

These days they're teaching kids all kinds of things at school. Thanks to the invention of "drunk goggles," kids can now be taught what it feels like to be drunk and have impaired vision.

Unfortunately for one Salt Lake City teen, one teacher's overzealous use of drunk goggles resulted in a fractured ankle, two surgeries, and one of her legs being permanently shorter than the other. In addition to those injuries, the teen, who used to run track competitively, now endures pain and swelling after engaging in physical activity.

Settlements for Minors

When a minor is involved in a personal injury action, there may be certain legal requirements, depending on the state's law, when it comes to bringing or settling a legal claim. Generally, a minor's statute of limitations for any injury, or legal claim, does not begin until the minor reaches legal majority, or 18 years of age. Additionally, some states require that any settlement resolving a minor's legal claim obtain court approval.

These court approvals of minors' settlements, often called a minor's comp., or a minor's compromise, requires a court to review the terms of a settlement to ensure that a minor's rights are being adequately protected, and the settlement monies cannot be taken and used by anyone else. As in the Utah drunk goggles case, most minors' injury settlements will require placing the majority of the award into a trust that will only be available to the minor when they turn 18.

Any funds that need to be used to satisfy debts, like medical bills, or pay attorney fees, must be approved by the court as reasonable. The reason that minors' settlements usually require court approval relates to the fact that minors do not have the right to file suit without a guardian ad litem. Courts are tasked with ensuring that any settlement entered into before the minor actually reaches legal majority and can file on their own behalf actually is in the best interest of the child.

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